As fall approaches rapidly, many are wondering if the race for a vaccine will bear fruit as early as January 2021.
I am a physician-scientist and infectious diseases specialist at the University of Virginia, where I care for patients and conduct research into Covid-19. I am occasionally asked how I can be sure that researchers will develop a successful vaccine to prevent Covid-19. After all, we still don’t have one for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
Here is where the current research stands, where I think we will be in five months and why you can be optimistic about the delivery of a Covid-19 vaccine.
It should, therefore, be much easier to make a vaccine for the new coronavirus than for infections such as HIV where the immune system fails to cure it naturally. SARS-CoV-2 doesn’t mutate the way that HIV does, making it a much easier target for the immune system to subdue or for a vaccine to control.
8. Antibodies targeting spike protein prevent infection
A vaccine will protect, in part, by inducing the production of antibodies against the spike protein on the surface of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.
The virus needs the spike protein to attach to and enter human cells to reproduce. Researchers have shown that antibodies, like those made by the human immune system, bind to the spike protein, neutralize it, and prevent the coronavirus from infecting cells in laboratory culture.